Ask The Agent

I have a property portfolio of a mix of 1 and 2-bedroom flats in JLT and Dubai Marina. With this in mind, how do I capitalise on what I have?

Seek professional advice as to how to manage your real estate portfolio. Many landlords across Dubai are bound to miss out on the revenue-generating opportunities that Expo 2020 will bring because of poor or non-existent planning. A competent property manager will provide you with the best opportunity to maximise your financial gains by giving you an assessment of the opportunities, and a strategy and activity plan designed to harness the financial potential of your property. Do not make the mistake of leaving your planning too late. You will need to comprehend current and likely future market conditions and events, likely risk factors that may enable or inhibit revenue growth, inflation and cost increases, and a complete comprehension of financial modelling and the ever-developing area of industry policy and regulation.

I am considering buying property to offer for rent. I am looking at two similar offers, one of which is located within 150 meters of a metro station and offered at a premium of around 8 percent. Is this reasonable?

Let us first look at why properties situated close to the Metro can command a premium. It is all about convenience, cost and lifestyle efficiency. Your prospective tenants can enjoy a cost-effective, fast, comfortable and reliable mode of transport to either travel to work, visit friends or even do some light shopping. No traffic hassles, road works, parking, and wear and tear on the family car while the requirement for a second family car is diminished. Many tenants are prepared to pay a rental premium for a property which allows them to enjoy these benefits. Our studies have shown that properties located within a .5-kilometre radius of the Metro in Dubai can command between a 6 percent and 11 percent premium when compared to similar properties with no feasible ambulatory access to a metro station.

My apartment is ready. When I said that I want to inspect it the developer said they already completed their inspection. Is this right?

Technically, once an official Completion Certificate has been issued for the building by the Dubai Land Department, it is deemed ready for handover and your contractual obligations regarding transfer of ownership remain. Nevertheless, I doubt if the developer has your best interests at heart in this instance. You have the right to inspect (snag) your apartment and report any legitimate issues to the developer for rectification. Items which can be remedied in the short term should be fixed immediately. Remember, once you have taken ownership of the apartment, the developer is obliged to fix any issues that may arise for a full 12 months following the transfer of ownership. It is in your interests to snag your apartment, and I strongly recommend you engage a professional to do this on your behalf.

What is the difference between a leasing agreement and a property management agreement?

You enter into a leasing agreement when you wish your real estateto locate suitable tenants for your apartments, facilitate the signing of the tenancy agreement leaving you to assume the responsibility and devote your time to managing the tenant and all aspects of the property thereafter. A property management agreement includes a lot more. A competent property manager will provide an assessment, strategy and activity plan. Considerations include history, current market and risk factors, industry knowledge extending to policy and regulation, finance and market dynamics. An activity plan will be provided covering pricing and marketing, customer relationship management, tenant management and policy, cost management, maintenance supervision, communications and review schedules, status reporting, financial reporting and resourcing. All of these activities will be performed by the property manager under a property management agreement.

Question of the Week

With Expo 2020 coming, is there anything I should do differently with my two apartments in Dubai Marina from a leasing point of view?

Timing will be critical to the decisions that you make regarding the management of your property. First of all, you need to get professional advice as you require a skilled and knowledgeable property manager to help you harness the true financial potential of your property during this unique period in Dubai’s real estate history. You need to appreciate that there will be some nuances and important considerations when looking at the opportunities that the World Expo 2020 will provide. For example, overall values will change but differing asset types and locations will not necessarily move in unison as Expo preparations move ‘from the analytical and planning phases through to implementation and eventual launch and operational phases. Initially, it is likely that investor demand will drive much of the value appreciation to be followed by an increasing rate of end-user demand for accommodation, both for villas and apartments. Those areas in proximity and with easy access to the Expo 2020 site itself will attract initial attention. However, as the event draws closer, demand for more centrally located property will also increase. One can expect both the rental return and capital return curve to steepen as we move closer to the event launch.

The Essential role of property asset managers

The role of the property asset manager is misunderstood by many, with the majority of property investors and other industry participants thinking that the role does not extend beyond the collection and remittance of rental receipts and acting as a buffer between the landlord and the tenant.

Little do they realize that a good property asset manager will generate a greater return from a property portfolio and enable long term portfolio strategic objectives to be realized.

Any investor in property would benefit from a professional property asset manager but it is essential to   know what to look for in selecting a professional to manage their property(s)?

  1. Astute investors understand that you need a professional who is experienced in the market. Not just any market, but the Dubai market. Typically, if you find somebody with at least 10 years’ experience, you will have found somebody who has survived the global recession, and that should provide a reasonable indication that they are in the business for the long term and that they had the skills to navigate and survive Dubai’s property slump. Many didn’t.
  2. Strategic Approach. A competent property asset manager will provide a whole host of services for the investor but the most important is the development of a Property Portfolio Strategy. The professional must be able to articulate and present his thoughts after conducting a thorough assessment of your personal situation and property portfolio. He must be able to provide you with a credible strategy and activity plan which is designed to harness the true potential of your property and provide you with the maximum rate of total return. It is essential to have a well thought out strategy for your property portfolio if you are to maximize your returns.
  3. Knowledge and Understanding. Not just anybody can formulate a credible and implementable strategy. It requires years of expertise and a fundamental understanding of what makes Real Estate such a worthwhile and superior investment. A true professional will have a strong knowledge base on topics including industry history, current market factors and trends, risk factors, and the likelihood of relevant future events that will affect the performance of your property investment. This knowledge should span global, regional and local landscapes and will require a good understanding of economic factors, industry knowledge extending to government policy and regulation, finance and market dynamics.
  4. Planning Expertise and Ability to Implement. Forming a strategy is one thing, but being able to bring the strategy to life is quite another. A true professional will provide an activity plan which will include details of pricing and marketing, customer relationship management and tenant management and policy for the entire portfolio. Essentially, this area of expertise is related to the “topline” or revenue generation and management of the property. Equally important is the cost management and maintenance supervision of the property. Many times, I have seen excellent “topline” performance being eroded due to poor operational and maintenance cost controls.
  5. Organizational Ability and Communication Skills. Managing your property portfolio will also require proper performance measurement, communications and review schedules, and status reporting and financial statements. Investors should always seek examples of these elements as transparency and candid performance appraisals are essential for managing your portfolio correctly by addressing shortfalls to objectives, issues requiring addressing and opportunities for performance improvement, in addition to your peace of mind.
  6. Customer Centricity. It’s important to choose a property manager who you can work with and who, you believe, has your best interests at heart. Your property manager must be customer centered and, unfortunately, in this business, this is not always the case.
  7. There is no point entering a business relationship that is lacking in mutual trust and respect. The investor must have confidence in his ability to manage a business … the investor’s business… which just so happens to be a property portfolio. As with all investments, but especially investments in property, there will be good times and challenging times. There is no such scenario as “set and forget”. It doesn’t exist. If you do not respect the manager you have appointed, the relationship will not survive the challenging times and you will need to go through the whole process of finding a replacement.
  8. A History of success. The investor should be sure to ask for referrals and call some existing clients. It’s important to seek out success stories and ask to see examples of client reports to assess their completeness, continuity and timeliness. The investor must ask the property manager carefully thought out questions to gauge the depth and breadth of knowledge that he possesses.
  9. Finally, it’s essential that the organization the investor is dealing with has the resources to support the manager of the portfolio. In these times of eliminating overheads, individual performance can be inhibited because of a lack of organizational support. The investor should ask to meet the team.

Choose Wisely The investor must ensure that the property asset portfolio is in good hands providing expected returns with as little hassle as possible. But the investor must realize that once a property manager is appointed, the ultimate return on the investment is largely in his hands.

mohanad_professional

Gulf News Freehold – Expert Eye

Why invest in real estate

before 2016?

The opportunities that have emerged so far will be too good to pass up

There have been a number of reports recently estimating the effect of the correction on Dubai’s real estate market. The most recent forecast shows a reduction of anywhere between 10% and 20% by the end of 2015.

The opportunities that have emerged so far in 2015 and will continue to emerge as the year progresses will be too good to pass up. Why is this, you ask? Oil prices are not expected to go anywhere soon. The decline of the Russian ruble has effectively made offshore investing too expensive. There is a growing oversupply, and the inevitable interest rate increases on the US dollar and its dirham cousin will further hamper liquidity. While these considerations are valid and worth considering, we need to put our positive hat on for a while.

Put simply, Dubai needs people to support an economy that is expected to grow at an estimated 5% annually for the remainder of the decade and to deliver initiatives such as the Expo 2020. The event alone is expected to drive demand for housing and commercial facilities that currently do not exist. Much of the city’s planning comprehends the number of people living in the emirate to grow to 3.4 million people by 2020; a 7% annual increase from today’s 2.25 million.

While the price of oil is a big issue for the region’s economies, the effect of the decline in oil prices is not as drastic as some may think. The Dubai economy is being driven by fundamentals such as tourism and trade, and a slew of projects to grow these important revenue-generating economic segments. Dubai has attracted almost 12 million visitors in 2014, continuing a growth trend of approximately 9% per annum since 2010.

And those visitor numbers will seem paltry once the Expo kicks off. Hosting the event will provide additional impetus for the industry to enjoy continued growth and the predictable surge in demand for accommodation and commercial space of all types.

We all know that the ongoing speculation surrounding the US Federal Reserve’s intention to raise interest rates is making many people nervous. However, we can be sure that interest rates in the US will eventually rise and the dirham will continue to get stronger. To invest in a market that is undergoing a 10% to 20% correction in a currency that is certain to appreciate only makes sense, especially when finance is still cheap and will remain so for quite some time to come.

While on the topic of certainty, there is no doubt that a stabilized real estate market will provide a much better launch pad for what will be a period of significant economic and commercial activity over the next five to seven years. The structural shift towards more affordable housing will not only serve to accommodate expected rapid population growth associated with the Expo, but also serve as an important factor in the development of the Dubai economy overall.

Every emerging economy needs to develop a strong middle class as its expansion is critical to growing a sustainable economy and developing resilience in the face of external financial and economic shocks. For Dubai to compete effectively on a regional and global basis, it needs to ensure that the cost of doing business in the emirate does not position it as an outlier when entrepreneurs or corporations are considering alternatives for their operations.

Talking of alternatives, there is an array of asset choice which has not been seen for some time. The availability of off-plan purchases with highly lucrative payment plans is unprecedented. There are investment opportunities in every segment of the market supported by the most affordable payment plans.

This year will be remembered as a year of the astute investor. Don’t miss out.

Right time to grow your portfolio

Even though some buyers continue to maintain a ‘wait and see’ approach as property prices continue to soften, if you have invested in Dubai property, especially in key growth areas, then hold on to your portfolio. In fact, we would advise you to, if possible, add to your portfolio.

Dubai’s economy is still doing very well although the IMF forecast for UAE economic growth this year is down to 3 per cent compared to last year’s 4.6 per cent, which is quite understandable considering the after-effects of the recent oil price slump on economy. Having gradually weaned the country away from overdependence on oil, the UAE remains in a good fiscal position as it proceeds with economic diversification.

The UAE economy is being driven by tourism and trade, and a slew of successful new projects that will complement these important revenue-generating economic segments which continue to be a primary feature of Dubai’s growth outlook. In 2014, Dubai welcomed over 12 million visitors, continuing a growth trend of approximately 9 percent per annum since 2010, a statistic which is the envy of many nations.

The ‘soft landing’ of the UAE economy is by no means bad news as it is simply indicative of more gradual sustainable growth overall which, in turn, is supported by the following factors:

The market is in a healthy state of revaluation and consolidation, not recession. The reduction in growth rates is necessary to ensure the type of sustainable, profitable growth that long-term investors seek becomes a recognized characteristic of the Dubai market. The market has demonstrated its maturity and resilience by recovering post-global financial crisis and is now adjusting to more sustainable value appreciation levels.

Strong demand for property. When you are investing in real estate, you are actually investing in the economy, and the effect of the 2020 Expo on the UAE economy cannot be underrated in terms of generating demand for real estate assets. Hosting the World Expo will provide additional impetus for the industry to enjoy continued growth, and the predictable surge in demand for accommodation and commercial space of all types, from labor camps to offices to warehouses to apartments to executive villas, is sure to have a significant effect on property values.

Investor appetite and confidence remain for off-plan and under-construction projects especially for those launched by reputable developers. Outside of tier one developer-led schemes, there has been strong performance in recent launches outside of prime locations and emerging areas.

The low mortgage rates of today are unprecedented and, notwithstanding possible interest rate rises in the US later this year as the dollar continues to strengthen, will still be affordable in the ensuing five years. We should remember that affordable finance and demand for real estate assets are inseparable.

The market is approaching maturity. The on-going development of the industry’s regulatory framework and the implementation of laws to safeguard both consumer and investor interests, and the overall industry and economy at large from rampant and irresponsible speculative, predatory or unethical practices, reveal a mature and balanced approach to shaping an industry which will exhibit sustainable growth over the long term.

If it’s superior yield with minimal capital outlay that you are after, Dubai real estate is still hard to beat unlike older established cities like Hong Kong and Singapore which currently suffer from high costs of housing, especially the former where only 50 percent of residents own their homes. Affordable properties have all benefitted from Dubai’s recovering economy. Investors in these areas can reasonably expect rental returns of at least 7 percent per annum on top of annual capital appreciation. Given the relatively low cost of entry, even with the overall economic slowdown predicted to continue well into the coming year, buyers in growth areas such as Dubai land will see greater financial rewards for their astuteness and patience in due course.

There is definitely a shortage of affordable housing in Dubai. The number of developments that will be supplying housing affordable to the middle and lower income segments is definitely on the increase, more so in the run up to the 2020 World Expo. Historically, the established developments that were most associated with filling the affordable housing gap were international City, Discovery Gardens and, to a lesser extent, MotorCity. But there have been more recent additions that have provided realistic alternatives to these older developments, and several more to come.

Still, as both buyers and sellers are sticking to their negotiating positions with more determination and a greater propensity to walk away from the negotiating table if not satisfied, the real estate cycle will continue on its course. Prices may continue to soften, but what is more important is that the market does not go down on a steep fall, and keeps to its current sustainable path.

Investors

Property Times – June 2015

I have been lucky in my professional life to have met and worked with some very successful investors. While I have found each to be different in personality, style and even investment philosophy, there are some attitudes, traits and perspectives that are shared among the most successful investors I have had the privilege to have met.  Thinking  back  to  many  interesting discussions I have had with these people… some  of  whom  are  my  most  loyal  and respected  clients…  there  are  several statements  that  we  often  hear  in  our everyday professional lives which I have not heard from this group of achievers. This is what separates them from the rest.

I hate (insert anything) … “

I have rarely heard my successful investors project a negative stance about anything in their professional life. This is not to say that they support every philosophy, concept or idea and they will also not accept an occurrence which is contrary to what they think should have happened. But instead of expressing such a negative emotion as hate, they continue to think positively and seek positives from a situation or take a positive approach to remedying that which they do not agree with. As a result, the dialogue is always positive, creating an environment positivity, proactivity and energy directed towards progress. Taking this approach also helps to create a pleasant, purposeful and fruitful environment in which to work and helps to maintain or even build esteem and confidence among those that can contribute to achieving exceptional results. It promotes objectivity, focus and decisiveness.

“That’s not fair”

The world is not a fair place never has been and never will be, and successful investors understand, embrace and accept that. This allows them to be immune from the negativity that can arise when an individual feels hard done by or cheated.  It  also allows them to plan, create contingencies and  maintain  a  positive  attitude  when a  seemingly  unfair  occurrence  occurs resulting in a greater chance to respond to a situation rapidly and appropriately rather than dwelling on the fact that an occurrence was “unfair”.

“That’s not how it’s done here”

An open mind is essential to develop, progress and eventual success. Successful investors will embrace new ideas and innovation.  To not realise that progress is created from ingredients consisting of past experience and innovation is to rely too heavily on tried and true practices that gradually lose relevance over time. This form of decay has destroyed entrepreneurs, global corporations and even whole economies and societies. With globalization, the world has become a much smaller place. To not embrace, improve and implement world’s best practice and only holding close what you are comfortable is the biggest threat to creating continued success.

“I am a self-made man”

Nobody has ever made it on their own. It was once thought that the iconic, independent, totally  self-sufficient,  unchallengeable, silent-type, hard-nosed entrepreneur who left  metaphorical  bodies  in  his  wake  as he  doggedly  climbed  the  mountain  of success was the role model that should be emulated by all who craved achievement. Many have tried and they all failed. No-one can achieve success on their own.  As a matter of fact, the most successful people I have met have surrounded themselves with successful people and ensured that those people shared in their success. They seek opinions, listen carefully, discuss intelligently, consider alternatives and have their decisions reviewed. They reward those who contribute to their achievements and help them succeed as well for this is also a valuable way to learn and build momentum at the same time.

“That’s impossible”

Successful  people  know  that  nothing  is impossible and hold the belief that every problem  has  a  solution,  some  of  which just haven’t been thought of yet. Anything is possible as long as there is a willingness to  explore,  question  and  challenge  and imagination  is  intensely  applied  and ingenuity  is  rewarded.  Achievers do not complain about obstacles. They embrace them so as to gain an understanding as to how they can be overcome for they truly believe that nothing is insurmountable. Negative words like “can’t,”  “won’t,” and “impossible” are never heard from the mouths of successful individuals. They know complaining will not help them, but actually doing something about the issue at hand will.

“I could have”

Could have… would have … should have. We have all heard these expressions of retrospective folly. Experts in hindsight have no place at the table of successful people and regret is a fruitless and pointless emotion. Successful people thrive on opportunities not lost opportunities. If they cannot make one opportunity work to their satisfaction, they move on and find another opportunity. Regret simply slows down the effective pursuit of the next great opportunity.

“I have no choice”

Victims have no choice. Successful investors create alternative solutions to every problem and will carefully consider all of them. In this way, successful investors are never victims for they create an environment filled with choices. Then it’s just a matter of deciding which choice represents the best way forward. Successful investors know how to create opportunities where normal people think none seemingly exist.  Successful investors believe that opportunities always will exist, but they are hidden in the recesses of our individual and collective imaginations.  The reason why they are successful is largely due to their determination and ability to extract those opportunities, while others are stagnating in the belief that they don’t exist!!